Model: Marie Flores
Wheelchair & hearing aid user
Family physician & epidemiologist

As a family doctor working in an urban community clinic, I usually wear scrubs, my hair tied up in a bun, and a surgical mask. The Bold Beauty Project gave me the opportunity to pamper myself and feel beautiful both inside and out. I was born with a rare genetic neuromuscular disorder that affects my balance, strength, and hearing. I use a manual wheelchair and hearing aids. Although my disability has been my greatest challenge, it also made me resilient, inspired me to become a physician, and turned me into a creative problem solver, communicator, and advocate for patients.

Many assumed that I would not meet the technical standards to practice medicine. However, my disability actually enhanced my ability to become an excellent doctor. I strive to provide my patients with a better medical experience than my own. Similarly, my journey to motherhood included doubts from society regarding my ability to have a baby. I’ve realized over time that I don’t have to be confined to others’ expectations. Now that I’ve accomplished everything I wanted in life – independence, a good education, my career, a loving family, and finally motherhood – I have nothing else to prove.

I am a mother, a wife, a physician, a researcher, a friend, an activist, a world traveler, and a lover of dogs, good food, and music: I am just Marie. I am perfectly imperfect. In fact, the best moments in life are imperfect, just like this photo. I’m laughing because my son finds the flower wall more interesting and refuses to look at the camera. Hilarious! Baby Eliseo Flores came into my life and taught me to stop and take the time to smell the roses. I hope to demonstrate to others that disability doesn’t define you; it empowers you.


Photographer: Ian Spanier